Whether you have a shoe collection of Imelda Marcos sized-proportions or see them as a functional item to protect your feet, we all have shoes. And at some point, those shoes will come to the end of their useful life to you. But what happens to them then? What should we do with our pile of unwanted shoes?
There may well be a lot more options than you even realise. Some of them benefitting others, some of them benefitting you, but either way, shoes should never find their way to landfill. Shoes have life left in them whether you know it or not, no matter how much you’ve worn them, abused them or loved them.
Here are our suggestions as to how to give your unwanted shoes a longer and more fruitful life!
LOCAL RECYCLING CENTRES
Your easiest option is probably to take them to your local community recycling centre. Shoe recycling bins are widely available, and to find one in your area, you can search by postcode on the Recycle Now website. Click on the ‘textiles’ tab in the list, and ‘shoe’s in an option. You should sort your shoes into pairs, and usually place them in a bag before you deposit them. Quite often your shoes will be sent abroad for re-use or recycled in a responsible manner.
CHILDREN’S SCHOOL SHOES
If you aspire to a greater good for your shoes, then you may be interested in the inspiring work of charity, Sal’s Shoes. Set up by a mum who wanted more for her son’s shoes, Sal’s Shoes supply schoolchildren who would otherwise be going to school barefoot, with essential school shoes. In the past 4 years’ Sal’s shoes have redistributed over 4 million pairs of shoes across 35 countries around the world.
RECYCLE AT CLARKS FOR UNICEF
Help UNICEF to reach even more children in danger by donating your old or unwanted shoes at your nearest Clarks store. Your shoes will help to change children’s lives by buying educational equipment such as the ‘School in a Box’. ‘School in a Box’ can transform any space into a learning area, with enough resources to educate 40 children, allowing them the chance to learn, no matter where they are, or what disaster has struck them. Clarks have been working in partnership with UNICEF since 2008 supporting the education of vulnerable children by raising money through shoe donations. ShoeShare drop off points are in more than 500 Clarks stores nationwide.
RECYCLING YOUR TRAINERS
If like many runners, you’ve hoarded a slightly embarrassing sized collection of trainers, you may be interested in the ‘Recycle my Run’ campaign which usually runs from February to March at Runners’ Need, the specialist running store. They will give you £20 off a shiny new pair of trainers if you bring in a pair for recycling. But hurry – the offer seems to be twice a year so check the link for current details.
Nike do run a ‘Re-use a Shoe’ programme, which means you can drop off any running shoe at any of the Nike stores for recycling. Adidas also run a ‘take back a product’ programme, but their drop off locations are limited to London, and ASICS are shortly to announce details of their own shoe and apparel recycling programme in support of their recent Olympic announcement.
COLLECT FOR A COMMUNITY CAUSE OF YOUR CHOICE
Many charities raise money through organising shoe collections which are then sold on to specialist recycling companies. And you can organise one for your favourite cause too. Companies like United Shoe will give you up to £5 per sack of shoes, and charities such as Bags of Support of or Bags2School will also give you cash for not only shoes but other textiles too, typically for your school’s PTA.
Of course charity shops, eBay and Facebook are other options to extend the life of your shoes, particularly if they are in good condition, but we hope that this gives you food for thought next time you are having a clear out.